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Placing beacons within digital marketing strategy: Part 2 Without integration, Beacons will only add to the noise

This is part 2 of a three part series assessing key considerations for marketers developing beacon strategies. See part 1 here.

Deploying a beacon program is not an overnight ticket to a rich understanding of individual customer preferences. Beacon adoption, including hardware, software, metrics, analytics, talent, and interpretation cannot exist in a vacuum.

Put simply, connecting offline to online requires actually connecting the relevant data streams generated by and within both. Otherwise, beacon data will only add to the volume, velocity, and variety of data pouring in faster than organizations can keep up with already.

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When integrated, beacons help distinguish ‘in-store’ from ‘mobile’ from ‘online;’ domains that are, today, disconnected due to limited integration and attribution capabilities. This is a critical step when developing beacon program, especially given the state of attribution today.

A survey of 700 companies by E-Consultancy showed that just 54% of businesses carry out any form of attribution; and just a third of companies incorporate any offline touch points whatsoever. Even some of the biggest brands in the world are limited to ‘last touch’ attribution capabilities, meaning they are only able to attribute a conversion or other intended outcome to the last recorded interaction (i.e an email landing page).

Thus, marketers’ ability to extract the coveted ‘360 degree’ view of any given customer is contingent on the organization’s ability to unify disparate data sources across silos—a massive challenge to say the least, and one marketers are already way behind on solving regardless of beacons.

Specific examples of where strategic alignment is critical for consumer-facing use cases include CRM, loyalty, attribution, content, e-commerce, customer retention, and mobile strategies, as well as operations, ERP, and IT strategies for less consumer-facing use cases such as inventory, supply chain, or labor management.

Ben Reubenstein, president of Possible Mobile, an agency specializing in digital strategy, explains, “Beacons are one piece of the experiential puzzle. The data they provide, combined with other in-store strategies like loyalty programs, need to be used to create a compelling touchpoint at the right time with the consumer.”

We also cannot understate the necessity for the talent and resources need for interpretation of offline data. Online behavior is easier to capture, but difficult to interpret, while offline and mobile data are more difficult, sometimes more costly to capture and also difficult to interpret.

Aligning beacons to existing strategies goes beyond simply documenting how beacons will support business goals. Omni-channel integration, attribution, measurement, talent, and resource considerations help equip the organization internally. But, internal alignment is only part of the picture; brands must also consider the external environment as well. How brands can leverage beacons to add value and enhance customer experience—not ruin it—is the topic of part 3 of this three part series.

Be sure to check back here tomorrow for Part 3 of this 3-part series: Customer Experience: the Wild Card of Beacon Implementations

You can also access part 1 here.

Image sources: harddollar.com, Priya Narasimhan

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